A few months after the Israeli Army swept across the West Bank in June 1967 pushing the Jordanian Army ahead of it in disarrary, a small band of Jewish ultranationalists drove south in their cars along the winding road from Jerusalem and stopped at the Park Hotel, a spacious, high-ceilinged pension owned by a local civil engineer named Fahd Kawasme.
Posing as Swiss tourists, the members of Rabbi Moshe Levinger's then-tiny Land of Israel Movement checked into the hotel and then announced they would not leave. To Kawasme's astonishment, they declared that Jews had a biblical right to the city of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, and that they intended to assert that right for all time.
When the Israeli military authorities -- concerned that the squatters might trigger a repetition of the 1929 Arab riots in Hebron -- tried to remove them, Levinger and his companions went limp in passive resistance and had to be carried away.
They were placed "temporarily" at the edge of an Army camp on the outskirts of Hebron. Since then, with the acquiescence of a succession of Israeli governments, they have turned their little encampment into a $50 million state-funded Jewish city of 5,000 inhabitants.
Today, Kawasme is the deported mayor of Hebron, and the sprawling Kiryat Arba high-rise settlement looms over the Arab city, a monument to the determination of Israelis not to be foreigners in a land they widely consider to be their own.
Kiryat Arba is a city unto itself, complete with its own utilities, public transportation, fire department, police, schools, stores and factories -- all surrounded by fortress-like watchtowers and barbed-wire topped fences.
Menachem Menachem, 44, an Israeli settler with an American wife, Harriet, and three children, stands in the midst of towering construction cranes swelling the size of Kiryat Arba and gives his views on the rights of Jews and Arabs around Hebron.
"I feel all of this belongs to me. If I want to buy a house in Hebron, I feel I ought to be able to buy it, just like I could go to Washington and buy it," said Menachem, who paid $10,000 for his subsidized two-bedroom apartment in Kiryat Arba.
"They [the Arabs] should feel they are the foreigners -- that the city doesn't belong to them. If they live here, they should know we are the bosses, that we are the ones in charge."
Should the Palestinians be driven from the West Bank entirely?
Menachem said he was not prepared to subscribe to that proposal, advocated by the Kiryat Arba-based Jewish Defense League, headed by Rabbi Meir Kahane. But any Arab who fails to understand who is in charge of the West Bank should be "handed a ticket" to leave, Menachem said.
About 60 miles north of here, in the Elon Moreh settlement near Nablus, Michail Shvut sits in her cramped prefabricated bungalow in a cluster of about 40 other trailer-like residences and echoes Menachem's determination.
Shvut and her family were part of the nucleus of the first Elon Moreh nearly eight years ago outside Kedoum, west of Nablus.They moved last year to a site closer to Nablus, and when Israel's Supreme Court declared that settlement illegal because Arab-owned land was improperly seized, the family moved to the present site on Jebel Kabir.
"I don't intend always to be a wandering Jew. We are here to stay, and someday Samaria will be filled with thousands of Jewish families," Shvut said.
Of her Arab neighbors, she said, "We have to let them know where we stand and where they stand. Sooner or later, we will have to apply Jewish sovereighty to [the West Bank], or the Arabs will think they can have a Palestinian state.
"It's just like the United States. You have little Italy and Chinatown, but they can't have an Italian state or a Chinese state," she added.
The settlers of Elon Moreh have gone to some trouble to drive home their point to the residents of Nablus in the little valley below. They have errected a Star of David with light bulbs to illuminate its outline as a beacon and reminder to the Palestinians who look up at night at the new community next to theirs.
Mattiyahu Drobles shars Shvut's vision of the Judaization of the West Bank, but he is in a better position to do something about it. Drobles is chairman of the World Zionist Organization's settlement division, and he administers the planning for an $80 million annual government investment in settlements in the occupied territories.
Drobles is the architect of a five-year plan to settle 150,000 Jews in the West Bank, partly by building new settlements but primarily by expanding existing ones. After that, Drobles said in an interview, "There is no doubt that the majority of the [Arab] population who want peace will have to live with this reality."
Of those Arabs who refuse to live with the reality he is helping create, Drobles said, "when we clarify that this [West Bank] is an integral part of Israel, some will leave to other Arab states."
With its striking lack of nuances, the one-dimensional, mystical and biblical-based claim of Menachem and Shvut to an absolute right to the land of the West Bank is representative of an indeterminate -- but sizeable -- proportion of the 14,000 Jewish civilan settlers living in the occupied territory.
But another refrain is being heard once again -- as it was immediately after the 1967 war -- from a growing number of settlers and government policymakers who translate ideology into facts on the ground. It is a refrain that has less to do with the patriach Abraham and a heavenly promise that "unto thy seed will I give this land" that it does with the cold pragmatism of military defensive strategy.
As Israeli settlement based solely on historical right becomes less popular in world opinion -- including the American Jewish community -- the strategic necessity of the outposts is emerging as a dominant theme in justifying the transfer of a Jewish population into conquered territory.